Mojave Flick Review: 50/50

Editor’s note: We all love movies, but rather than ask a syndicated columnist who has never visited our beautiful High Desert, we commissioned our own local movie critic: Nolan P. Smith to review films and give us a local perspective. Enjoy!

Miguel Gonzalez


By Nolan Patrick Smith

High Desert Daily

(Victorville)—Cancer: it’s a hard subject to speak on for many, and an even harder subject to base a film around. Many films that try to tackle the topic either succeed beyond expectations or miss the mark completely. This week saw the release of 50/50, the latest film to deal with cancer, so how did it turn out?

50/50 stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who had a major role in last year’s smash hit Inception, but is also known for his role as Roger in Angels in the Outfield. Levitt plays Adam, a quiet, stays to himself guy who ends up with a rare spinal cancer. Alongside Levitt is modern day funny man Seth Rogen (Paul, Pineapple Express), who plays Adam’s best friend, Kyle. The way these two play off of each other is sheer excellence, as they counter each other’s strengths perfectly.

Upon receiving the diagnosis, Adam’s life beings to spiral out of the control of this mild mannered man’s hands: Dialysis, his body becoming weaker, his eyes becoming open to his girlfriend’s actions, him becoming more open to a therapist in training  (Anna Kendrick), and the realization of what can happen to his young life in such a short span of time. He realizes what he has in his life, from his mother who takes care of his Alzheimer’s stricken father, to his best friend (Rogen) who helps in any way he can. Levitt really shines in this role, owning the character’s attitude, nuances, and demeanor. Rogen shows he can act, for those that continue to doubt his abilities, as the whole cast makes this film one to remember.

I went in to the film expecting more comedy than anything else: what I got was a perfectly balanced dramedy that hits the high notes in both comedic parts and parts that make you want to tear up.  The interaction between Adam and his parents is so powerful, and the dialogue between Adam and his therapists seem so real, so honest that it feels like this is really happening. Director Jonathan Levine captures this world perfectly, as the environment and even the weather fits the film and helps to make the experience that much more powerful. There are mature themes in this film, and mature scenes, so parents, take caution.

Many films opened in the past two weeks, making many choices for fans of any genre. Yet, if you are looking for a spectacular, slice of life, emotionally driven film that belongs on the list for Best of 2011, then you need to see 50/50. Honestly, it’s not a 50/50 chance of liking this movie, more like a 95/5.

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